Saudi Arabia, India’s Key Strategic Partner, Will Encourage Indo-Pak Dialogue

SRINAGAR: Saudi Arabia has said it will “encourage” a focus on “a path of dialogue and discussion” between India and Pakistan to resolve issues permanently.

“On the (OIC) statements as regards to Kashmir, this is an issue that continues to be a dispute between two countries and therefore what we would encourage is that there should be a focus on a path of dialogue and discussion among India and Pakistan to resolve these issues in a way that can settle these concerns permanently,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Bin Farhan Al Saud was quoted saying by The Hindu.

The prince was asked by the newspaper if as leader of the OIC, did he discuss the OIC statements on Jammu and Kashmir, the status of Indian Muslims, communal violence, with his hosts during his recent visit. “From our perspective, these are domestic issues. And it is up to the people of India and to the Government of India to address these concerns. And we would, of course, always support any initiatives in this regard that the Indian government takes, but from our perspective, it’s a domestic affair,” the foreign minister responded.

Saudi Arabia and India are strategic partners and a lot of investment is taking place in India as part of the agreements the two countries have already arrived at.

Admitting “a very broad-ranging relationship with India”, the prince, who was on his first visit to India, said India has become the third-largest trade partner for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a significant growth in both trade and also investment. “When this announcement (about US $100 billion) was made, we had $500 million direct investments, and we are more than $3 billion now,” the prince said. He said the Covid19 has delayed things but the priorities and “excitement about the relationship” have remained unchanged.

“COVID has dampened some activities just because of the restrictions on travel, and, of course, the effects it had on oil, etc,” the prince said. “I’m confident that not only will we achieve the ambitious targets that we have set, we will probably exceed them over time.”

During Prince’s three-day maiden visit to India, he had detailed interactions with the foreign minister Dr S Jaishaker and the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Apparently, the issue of Afghanistan dominated the bilateral discussions. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reportedly invited Saudi Arabia to invest in India in key sectors like defence manufacturing, energy and IT.

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